After years of toil in the studio and on the live circuit, Australian-born London locals Siboney & Andy have finally released their debut EP. ‘Secret’ is the perfect bite-sized introduction to this duo who have earned their stripes as veterans of the live scene and are now aiming to truly make their mark as recording artists. Both handle song-writing duties while Siboney takes the lead on vocals and Andy helms the production and instrumentals; an approach that works well.
Each song brings an entirely new flavour to the equation, creating within the space of only 4 tracks a surprisingly compatible blend of genres. The underlying (or perhaps overlying) theme is well-crafted, good-for-your-ears pop music. But it’s a pop comprised of everything from indie, electronica and at times even a touch of folk, just for good measure.
Standout track ‘See Me Through The Night’ is a great example of their ability to come together to write a genuinely beautiful song. It serves as a great opener and really gives Siboney the opportunity to show her chops as a singer.
Their first single ‘Secret’ sees them sharing vocal duties, using the opportunity to delve into deeper, more emotive territory. As they both sing of betrayal and a forbidden love, piercing guitars both acoustic and electric give it a distinct edge. It stands in stark opposition to the following track ‘Mexico’ which immediately switches mood and brings the fun. Built around a breezy instrumental, this track was made for carefree days of sunshine and road trips.
Their first recorded outing as a duo brings a lot to the table, but it’s the marriage of their crisp, unfaltering production and Siboney’s standout vocal performances that really make this an essential release and a stellar debut effort. Watch this space!
Confronting, abrasive, crude, alarming; all words that spring to mind upon first listening to this sharp piece of electronica. Brimming with attitude and possessing a ruthless no holds barred approach, this track is either one to have you running scared or craving more. Tight, purposeful production and startlingly provocative lyrical content form the basis of this furious track, putting the sound somewhere in the middle of Die Antwoord and Peaches. The first single to be released by Dusty Wax (the pseudonymous art project of Italian native Angelica Barbareschi), the tune is an ambitious dive into the world of electronic rap/rave, driven by themes of all things taboo. This is our first taste of Dusty Wax and she uses the opportunity to let her intentions be very clear; given the opportunity, she will take 2016 for her own so watch out.
10 Best Music Documentaries of the 21st Century so far…
Charles Bradley: Soul of America (2012)
Everybody loves a feel-good story. And this is one to truly warm your cockles. It tells the story of one Charles Bradley and his journey from working man of the American anti-dream to praised soul revivalist. For years Bradley struggled with poverty as he provided for himself and his mother, gigging as a James Brown impersonator. The film joins him just as he has started recording with New York based soul studio Daptone Records, and ends with its acclaimed release. His story speaks of suffering and hardship, but also the ability to overcome.
Searching for Sugarman (2012)
The story of singer-songwriter Rodriguez has now become the stuff of legend; an unrecognized artist of immense talent, a long forgotten relic of yesteryear whose recordings were surely destined to fall to the bottom of a dusty box in the back of a warehouse. Oh, bar the fact that he was actually a multi-million selling artist in South Africa. This documentary shines light on one of the most bizarre true stories in music; How an artist can remain completely unknown in his home country, whilst simultaneously becoming one of the biggest selling artists in another, and not even know it. The film itself unfolds in such a way as to keep you guessing throughout and is a great example of what documentary can be.
Muscle Shoals (2013)
A good documentary discovers a story that already exists but is largely unknown. In the case of Muscle Shoals, it uncovers the tale of one unsuspecting recording studio in the middle of nowheresville, U.S.A, which, behind the screen door, played it’s own significant part in sculpting modern music. Artists to have recorded there included Aretha Franklin, Etta James, The Rolling Stones, The Allman Brothers, Jimmy Cliff… The list goes on.
A film about the great Bob Marley the way it should be told. A well crafted documentary chronicling his life from humble Jamaican beginnings to Reggae/Rastafarian spokesperson for the world. It gives meaning to some of his well known songs and tells of his internal struggles as an artist and a family man. The impact he had and continues to have on global culture is incalculable and this provides good evidence as to why.
Dig! Is one of those ‘right places at the right time’ type of stories. Director/Producer/Writer Ondi Timoner found herself smack-bang in the middle of the perfect storm; two bands on the verge of something big. The Dandy Warhols went on to fame and fortune. The Brian Jonestown Massacre remained in the realm of obscurity. It became a case study into the inner workings of the music industry and what it takes (or doesn’t take) to crack the big time. Timoner stayed with the bands on and off for 7 years, collecting hundreds of hours worth of footage and the result is one of the greatest music documentaries of all time.
A must for any hip-hop fan old or new, Scratch is a crash course in all things hip-hop, covering everything from the Elements, to Turntablism, to Battling. It has interviews with everyone whose anyone in the hip-hop game, both past and present, including; Mix Master Mike, Afrika Bambaataa, DJ Shadow, DJ Q-Bert and DJ Premier. Its a great film not only because of its high-profile guest list, but because of its in-depth look at Hip-Hop which, broadly speaking, is a comparably young genre of music. If you’re looking to get fully immersed in the world of DJs and learn a thing or two, check it out.
A Band Called Death (2012)
2012 seemed to be the year for documentary makers to discover forgotten or underrated acts. Much like Charles Bradley and Rodriguez, the band Death never experienced any real success in their heyday. And much like Bradley and Rodriguez, they should have. Death were a Proto-Punk band out of Chicago formed by three brothers with an unrelenting ethos for making furious Rock n Roll with a mostly political stance. Sound familiar? Only, these boys pre-dated Punk. Had they been more fortunate with studios and label executives, they might have been more of a household name today.
End of the Century (2003)
You don’t get to be the pioneers of a genre and have a career that outlasts most marriages without one hell of a story to match. End Of The Century probes deep the story of punks, the Ramones; why they started making music, how they got their break(s), their rise to fame and their eventual collapse. The film also focuses on the unusually tense relationship between singer Joey and guitarist Johnny. It includes rare footage and interviews with the band and gives real insight as to what made them tick, and what made them explode.
20 Feet From Stardom (2013)
This is the previously untold story of the unsung singers behind some of music’s greatest performers. It shifts the lime light to the back of the stage to grant credit to some of the voices that helped create the sound of songs from the Rolling Stones, Sting, Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles. It serves as a reminder of the names and faces of talents that go largely unnoticed within the music industry, but that play a major role.
Beautiful Noise (2014)
Beautiful noise was no easy film to make. It began its first stages of production back in 2005 and was completed in 2008. Unfortunately, due to various legal and financial issues, the film sat unreleased for years until a Kickstarter campaign earned the project enough money to be distributed. Then there it was; a documentary that told the story of the often overlooked yet oh-so important Shoegaze movement of the early 90’s. The film focuses on three bands primarily (Cocteau Twins, My Bloody Valentine and The Jesus & Mary Chain) but explores the genre as a whole and discusses its vast influence on the world of music.
The Chemical Brothers are back it again, giving us their first album since 2010’s ‘Further’. The duo consisting of Ed Simons and Tom Rowlands first started turning heads when they emerged in the mid 90s with their unique flavour of electronica, infused with everything from psychedelic rock to hip hop. Fast forward 20 years and the pair are continuing to transcend conventional genres and styles and push the boundaries of modern music.
‘Born In The Echoes’ proves that as a musical project, the two are just as relevant as ever. The songs on this album are new and adventurous, yet they retain that unmistakable Chemical Brothers charm. The whole set is brimming with high-energy bass that shoots to the furthest reaches of your body. Weird noises seem to rise to the surface from nowhere; strange, perplexing sounds whose origin could well be from another planet. True to past releases, the only thing that connects these songs is their overwhelming diversity.
As with previous albums, the two have enlisted a troupe of contributors to lend their vocal talents to the mix. Q-Tip is first on the billing; rapping over the bass-driven, radio friendly ‘Go’.
St. Vincent’s Annie Clark appears on the following track ‘Under Neon Lights’; a strange yet very listenable tune with multi-layered vocals and off-beat click clack drum beats. Also to make an appearance is Canadian poet Bill Bissett on “Ill see you there”; a psych-rock jam that reminds us psychedelia is just as much an influence for the Bros and any other. Last on the list of notable additions to the album comes in the form of Beck who sings on the final track ‘Wide Open’ for what is a soft, dreamy and essentially catchy tune. Unfortunately the song lacks any real impact, especially for a closer, and given the guest, one would have expected a bit more.
Although the album is heavy on the guest spots, no one succeeds in stealing the show. Their contributions serve only to accompany and amplify the already very strong instrumentation. The track ‘Taste Of Honey’ appears later in the album and is a good example of this; showing the duo’s willingness to experiment with new atmospheric sounds and bizarre song structures.
‘Born In The Echoes’ is an example of just how good the Chemical Brothers can be as producers and is another milestone solidifying them as masters of their craft. It shows that while they make electronic music, it seems they listen to everything but. It is as much an experience to be shared on the dance floor, as it is an individual trip for the senses. Either way, its best enjoyed LOUD. Whether that be through the speakers or the headphones is up to you.
In 2013, MC Ghostface Killah and producer Adrian Younge brought us a brutal, criminally inspired Hip-Hop album that fused elements of gritty East Coast Rap and 70’s groove-driven Soul. Now, in 2015, the duo return with the sequel, ’12 Reasons To Die II’, a project as equally bold and ambitious as the first.
Essentially, the album is intended to act like a movie for your ears; each song, another chapter in the tale of the infamous Tony Starks (Ghostface Killah). Harsh, bombastic vocals and analog instrumentals make for an authentic vintage sound, placing the setting of this soundtrack somewhere in the midst of 1940’s gangster film. The record is even broken up with brief interludes of narration which also push the story forward, introducing the listener to new scenes and characters. Most notable of these cameos are fellow Wu-Tang Clan members Raekwon and RZA. It showcases, once again, the originality of Ghostface not only as a rapper but as a story teller.
The rhyme style and lyrics of Ghostface and his co-star Raekwon are as potent and hard-hitting as ever. They come as ear-pounding bursts of words that pierce through Younge’s seemingly air tight production. The record also features a few other lesser known rap names in supporting roles. Scarub offers a more off kilter edge to the sound with an approach more similar to the obscure stylings of Kool Keith with a rapid-fire staccato, bouncing from one point to the next.
Where as the vocal performances bring the audacity, it’s Younge’s musicality that legitimizes the work. He implements a lot of aspects of his signature sound but has also used the opportunity to grow as an artist. Backing tracks of haunting oo’s and aa’s sound as though they’re sung by a choir of ghosts. And while there are subtle hints of electronic flairs, Younge differs from most contemporary producers in his abandon for the use of sampling, and his devotion to original musical composition. He is a traditionalist with his influences heavily routed in psychedelic soul and spaghetti westerns; a combination that apparently goes with Hip-Hop like chicken and waffles.
The album, like its predecessor, is coupled with its instrumental counterpart. A great idea for any hip hop album, in my opinion, but especially good when the instrumentation is so well composed.
Overall, a great output from both Ghostface Killah and Adrian Younge. One that will be enjoyed by fans of both East-Coast Rap and Italian composer Ennio Morricone. Does the album expand on the last and bring any new and adventurous ideas to the equation? Not in a huge way, but it doesn’t have to. The formula as it stands is a good one. A well produced, atmospheric, crime film made for the speakers instead of the screen. Gritty, grimy, smooth and polished. Such is the life of a gangster after all.
Tame Impala has become somewhat of a household name to those whose taste leans towards the more psychedelic end of the spectrum. Since the early days of 2008 they have more or less become the de facto ambassadors for the Neo-Psychedelic movement by consistently pumping out catchy, well crafted songs that seemed to directly channel the spirits of the 60s.
For this latest effort, frontman Kevin Parker takes on the role of mad professor in the studio; tackling production duties and arranging most of the instrumentation. What is born is an experimental creation all of his own; more personal and more emotional than the bands previous material.
There has always been a modest electronic presence in world of Tame Impala, helping in its way to create the groups luscious signature sound. However on ‘Currents’ there is a distinct shift of focus. Rich, multi-layered synthesizers have are now front and center, pushing the heavy, fuzzed-out guitars somewhere towards the back of the stage. The sound isn’t all together vastly different but for anyone expecting rockers like ‘Elephant’, you will not find them here.
The drums also take on a different form on this record. Parker has opted for more simple beats; leaving an absence of fills and splashy cymbals and adopting the tried and true boom-bap beats of 70s Funk. The result of these key changes in the bands approach to music is an album full of deep grooves and emotional vocal performances that are amplified and carried by a rich eletronic feel.
The album is threaded with a series of unifying motifs which tie together each song and, indeed, the album as a whole. Unfortunately, this could be its downfall. There are a handful of highlights including ‘Let It Happen’, ‘The Less I Know The Better’ and the incredibly powerful ‘Eventually’. But rather than being supported by equally great songs, the remainder of the album comes across a bit like filler (two of the tracks actually being wordless interludes).
Earlier in the year they released four songs as a teaser for the album and the were so good I couldn’t stop listening to them. Had they been released by themselves, it would have made for a near perfect EP. However, stretching that sound over an entire album without much deviation seems to dilute the overall effect. By the time you’ve arrived at the end of the album you are hoping for the same excitement that the first tracks brought; what you get is more of the same.
Having said this, it is still a great record that brings a lot of original ideas and material to the table. As a band they’ve growm dramatically over just a few short years, only becoming better with time and this album is proof that they will continue to do so. Recommended to those of you seeking a bit of sweet Electronically driven Psych-Pop.
Mac Demarco has announced the release of a new mini-LP titled ‘Another One’ and is due to drop August 7 via Captured Tracks.
Fans of the Canadian indie hero got a lucky listen of the tunes at a BBQ hosted by the man himself yesterday in New York City. The album comes hotly anticipated on the heels of 2014’s breakthrough success ‘Salad Days’.
In the mean time, check out the title track for the new album here:
Jazz is an interesting genre. It’s lack of accessibility means that, although it’s musicians have always been highly regarded, it has never had much of a grasp on the mainstream. Unfortunately this means that even talented artists remain largely unheard by the masses. But once in a while the public will recognise a truly great talent; whether it be in the form of Miles Davis, John Coltrane or Charles Mingus.
And so now in 2015, out of the mystic shadows of the realms of Jazz comes Kamasi Washington. Here is an artist so original, so exciting and so beautifully strange in his approach to music that his talent could scarcely be unrecognized for long. Washington, a tenor saxophonist, has been known as a contributing musician for a number of acts in recent years including Flying Lotus, Herbie Hancock and even Kendrick Lamar. But it was this year’s breakthrough album ‘The Epic’ that has garnered him some well deserved attention.
At its core, this album is Jazz. But is also so much more. His band consists of trumpet, trombone, bass, keyboards, percussion, saxophone, piano, and two – yes- two drummers. Together they journey into uncharted sonic territory, pushing the boundaries of what contemporary music can be. The result? An almost extra-terrestrial sound; impassioned and atmospheric. The haunting backing vocal tracks found on songs like the opening ‘Change Of The Guard’ sound as though they’ve been plucked from the soundtrack of a 70s science-fiction film.
Although the album can be described as a well-balanced whole, the tracks themselves range quite drastically. Sometimes fierce and urgent, like ‘The Magnificent 7’; sometimes slow and soft like the dreamy ‘Seven prayers’. Other tracks aim to incorporate different genres altogether such as ‘Re-Run Home’ which begins with a Funk driven groove. It is here that his use of two drummers really comes alive as they become caught in the throws of frantic games of cat and mouse. You can also find elements of Soul, like in the easy-going ‘Cherokee’ which is one of only a handful that utilizes vocals as a major part of the song.
‘The Epic’ could not be more aptly named. It is a true assault on every one of your unsuspecting senses. Clocking in at a little under three hours, this behemoth is split into three volumes; ‘The Plan’, ‘The Glorious Tale’, and ‘The Historic Reception’. As an artistic project it is close to flawless; at some points smooth and sensual, at others, erratic and abrasive. This album gives the listener everything and is not a venture to be taken lightly. So if it’s an experience you’re after, take three hours from your life, put on a selection of great music and witness a journey like no other.
Soul music as a genre has witnessed a well deserved resurgence as of late. Deep, meaningful songs rooted in blues and gospel; warm and intimate whilst uplifting and full of groove. Acts such as the Menahan Street Band, Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, and Charles Bradley have emerged to find themselves playing to a surprisingly receptive audience. An audience with a taste and appreciation for the old. One other such artist making his way to this audience is Leon Bridges.
A newcomer to the music scene, Bridges was busy playing his songs in dive bars until he was noticed by ‘White Denim’ guitarist Austin Jenkins and was soon after asked to record. His music is one thing and one thing alone; pure, unadulterated Soul music. Unlike contemporaries belonging to the Neo-Soul movement, Bridges doesn’t look to add any of the bells and whistles of our modern era of music and instead opts for a more stripped-back approach. As the saying goes; “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
The album was recorded with vintage equipment, giving the overall sound of the record that old world charm. Listen to it and you’re instantly transported into an early 1960’s living room, nestled around the record player with your sweetheart. It has every component of the classic Soul album. From the sweet-as-candy backing vocals, to the oh so smooth guitar licks, accompanied by those wispy, echoing drum beats.
Having said this, Mr Bridges is no impostor. He isn’t simply regurgitating the old hits of yesteryear. This is real music, borne of real emotions, and its authenticity is hard to deny.
Overall, the album is relatively well balanced. It begins strong with the title track; a true representation of his sound that instantly gives the listener an idea of what they are going to be hearing for the next 30 minutes. From then on the album progresses seamlessly from laid-back slow-burners ‘Shine’ and ‘River’ onto more jumping numbers ‘Smooth Sailing’ and ‘Flowers’.
The album doesn’t necessarily have any weak points, it flows from one end to the other with little disappointment. However, it does lack a certain level of excitement that might prevent it from becoming one of the greats. Its like a pizza with everything but the anchovies; good, not great.
Leon Bridges is a revivalist in the most complimentary sense of the word and this album just makes you smile. He has a very promising career right in front of him and he will no doubt produce many fine records. Now that he has established himself at such an early age, he has the freedom to explore new paths and expand his sound into something truly great.
Mexican Punk trio Le Butcherettes take to the studio for their third album, this time enlisting the powers of legendary Stooge, Iggy Pop and former Red Hot Chili Peppers’ guitarist, John Frusciante. The album will be called ‘A Raw Youth’ and will drop on the 18th of September through Ipecac Recordings. Like the bands previous two efforts; 2011’s ‘Sin Sin Sin’ and 2014’s ‘Cry Is For The Flies’, the album will be produced by ex-Mars Volta bandleader Omar Rodriguez-Lopez.
Le Butcherettes first crashed onto the Indie-Punk scene with their debut EP ‘Kiss & Kill’ and have since then garnered an increasing fanbase and critical praise not only for their unrelenting material, but their outlandish live performances.
Leading up to the release of the album, the band have just hit the road on a tour of the United States with Punk Rock institution the Melvins.